January 2019 Tampa Bay Fishing Report

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Cold, warm, cold, repeat…

Weather Synopsis

It’s January in Florida and this year’s weather set-up, not unfamiliar, has cold fronts parading across the peninsula about once a week. The southern branch of the jet stream has provided a quick track for these storms. The last part of January will be marked by a deep, colder trough across the eastern U.S. That translates to some below-normal temperatures in the Tampa Bay area. Fortunately, these blasts of colder air tend not to last long. That said, it can be challenging trying to fish between the fronts. Most people’s schedules don’t revolve around when the next cold front will pass.

What’s biting

Most species that inhabit Tampa Bay are continuing to feed around the cooler weather. Some fish, like spotted sea trout and redfish, are not as sensitive to cold. Snook, a largely tropical species, have adapted in this area and continue to bite through the cold spells. The best bite is most often in the late afternoon when the water is typically at its warmest. Bay water temps are holding in the low to mid 60s at this time. Live bait is still available, but you have to work for it. Scaled sardines, or whitebait, is available around the Sunshine Skyway bridge, but it’s often tough to get. Live shrimp are a great bet and can be easily purchased at the bait shop. I’m nursing a rotator cuff injury as of late, so throwing a large, heavy net is just not what I want to do. Some days you do what you don’t want to do. Artificial baits are very effective for trout and redfish. When the water is cool, it’s best to work the baits a little slower. Again, late afternoon is the best time to throw artificial baits. Working over dark mud and grassy bottom structures is very productive. Remember, snook and redfish harvest is closed in Tampa Bay until May. Don’t get caught with illegal harvest! Tight lines and stay safe out there. Be sure to email me with any questions. Check out my Charter Information Page for details on all of my offerings.

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